esne76 Asked June 2012

POA blocking family from information. Is there any recourse?

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My grandmother is currently in a nursing home after being placed there by a daughter who did not wish to care for her any longer. The daughter is both the Power of Attorney and medical proxy. Due to a family rift, the POA is not in communication with my grandmother's remaining children (who would have gladly taken on my grandmother's care, but were denied the opportunity because of the POA's not wanting her to live with them). She does not communicate any information related to my grnadmother's health, forcing the rest of the family to have to go through the hospital or the home to get updates. Twice when my grandmother was hospitalized the POA instructed hospital staff to not give out information to family members calling to check on my grandmother. Now she has also given the same instructions to the nursing home. There is no justifiable reason for her actions other than her own pettiness. And there is no base to her instructions- my family only want what is best for her, and up until now, the nursing home never had any issue with us calling and visiting. Is there any recourse?

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Riley90 Oct 2015
Even though this is an old thread, I am commenting because I am in the same situation. My Dad has dementia. Dad gave mental and health POA and executor of the Trust to a friend in close proximity to him (we live out of state), but Dad had only known him for 4 years. This guy was 20 years younger, very good at gaining my dad's trust, and ingratiated himself into my dad's life in every way. In addition, the estate lawyer is crooked and managed to finagle his way onto the the Trust as the "Trust Protector" and remove me as the co-trustee, when my father was in a weakened mental state, about a year before he was diagnosed. My father and I had many discussions about me being the Co-trustee and that although the estate lawyer was trying to talk him into making himself the Trust Protector, my father kept saying he didn't want that. This same lawyer advised my dad to use the friend of 4 years as Trustee, M and H POA for himself, and for his wife. Then my father went into crisis about a year later, was removed from his home at the retirement community he lives in, and put in a locked unit. Then the nightmare began for my sister and I, always a close and tight family, this guy has done everything to rip us apart, using my dad's lawyer and my dad's money to protect himself and get his way with bullying us and keeping us at a distance. We didn't know anything about the POA documents, but found out later the friend was named as "Agent" and my sister and I as the next 1st and 2nd Alternates on both mental and health. As soon as he was able to take over, this "friend" blocked us from getting any information about our father. They shipped Dad to a level 1 psyche ward because they wanted to give him a 'Psyche evaluation" and he kept calling and crying and begging us to get him out. They were giving him anti-psychotic drugs like resperadol that we knew have black box warnings not to give to elderly patients with dementia. Dad was a typical dememntia case, he was not psychotic. Because of a glitch with his admissions, my sister and I were able to get him out of the psych ward and sent back to the other locked unit at his retirement community. The wife agreed and wanted him taken out of there, the POA was on vacation and unreachable and also unaware until a few days after my dad's return, that he held Health POA as well as mental POA. So actually, he had nothing to do with the decision making about Dad's medical at that time only because he was unaware, as were were. When the agent returned from vacation, he figured out he was health POA, also, and promptly blocked my sister and I so we couldn't get any more information and put a gag order on every person in the entire facility including social worker and manager of the facility to the point that if we called they would just only say, "I am not allowed to talk to you." Dad was too far gone to understand what the agent had done to the daughters, but would have never allowed him to behave this way if he did know. We hired an attorney to try for guardianship and our case got botched and we fired the attorney. Nightmare been going on for 6 months now, we are still blocked. We talk to Dad everyday on the phone, and although it's killing us financially, we go and visit once a month for 4 days, and the facility staff won't talk to us other than basic pleasantries. They report on our behavior to the wife and the agent. The wife and the agent banned one of my dad's church friends from visiting my dad because they don't like her. He hardly has any visitors which leads to isolation. The facility is terrible and boasts a 5 star rating but is far from it. We have witnessed all manner of neglect but have been unable to address it directly with the staff due to the gag order. One of our dad's family members, furious with his treatment, called APS, and suddenly, the facility is starting to pay attention to my father's situation. All this time I thought the wife knew that the Agent had blocked us. She is very good friends with him and very dependent on him, and I believe he and the lawyer are completely manipulating her for their own interests. But recently she and I have reconnected and she kept saying, "why don't you talk to the nurse if you are not happy about something with your dad? and why don't you ask the facility manager about this or that, she's a good friend of mine, just talk to her!" I kept telling her they were gagged and she didn't believe me. I asked her, "if you knew that the agent had blocked us from getting information about dad would you have been ok with that?" Her response was "Absolutely Not! I would never approve that! Of course you should be able to ask anything you want about your father!!!" She has been completely in the dark all of these months and agent has been lying to her about why my sister and I have been so angry in our attitude towards both of them, towards the facility, towards the lawyer. He never told her why we got a lawyer in the first place. She believed, as he believed also, that we were just after the money (there isn't that much $, people always want to know). It couldn't have had anything to do with the fact that we just wanted our father to have the best care possible, given some quality of life, which had been completely stripped away from him, and cared for the way he cared for us our whole lives. This was our only concern and it has led to desperation on our part that we can't advocate for him. In the beginning when we first got blocked, I made multiple attempts to talk things through with the agent, left him 6 voice messages, he ignored all of them. Refused to speak with me, refused to answer my questions in emails. The only time he agreed to talk to me was if my dad's lawyer was present (and I didn't even have a lawyer at the time, so I felt totally ganged up on, as dad's lawyer was already totally siding with the agent and antagonistic towards both daughters, as I wrote before, he had me removed as co-trustee and inserted himself as Trust Protector when Dad was totally mentally weak, and after Dad had continually refused his "offer" to be TP). At this point, we can't get him on anything. He can still gag the facility even though the wife is against it, and he has not done any financial reporting yet, so we don't know what he is doing with the money. Yet. This whole ordeal has cost an unbelievable amount of money, and we single women with no financial security, just our faith that everything will be okay at some point. Fortunately my father's siblings have stepped in and put pressure on him and raised funds to get things for my dad that should at least lessen the neglect. There isn't a lot of money for those things, but at least it is something. Wife and agent don't believe dad is being neglected, but the whole family sees and are pissed off now and doing something about it. So at least my sister and I are not alone now. Unfortunately it took my dad being neglected and us taking pictures of him to get the family upset enough to do something about it. This guy has done nothing but cause our family grief. The most recent thing was an old family friend went to visit dad the other night, she lives in another state, and hadn't seen him in years. She was in his room for 2 minutes when a nurse came in and told her she had to leave, that Dad wasn't allowed to have visitors (????) that there was a list of people not allowed to visit. She politely refused to leave. They sent in another nurse who told her to leave, again she said, no thank you, I am sure it is fine for me to visit my friend. The nurse then demanded she write her name down on a piece of paper. A few mins later my dad's phone rang, it was the wife, who had been called by the nurses, and told her she had to leave and asked her if she was there to "spy." The whole thing was so off the charts and disrespectful, this woman has known my dad for over 45 years, long before the wife came into the picture. I am sharing this story because there are people who are going through similar things, mostly with their family members, not so much an outsider like this guy we are dealing with. But it happens and it's important that "friends" are not made POA unless they are really trustworthy and have been in the family for years. I believe my father thought it was best to have a 3rd party in charge because he didn't trust his wife, (who by the way, they have been separated for 5 years and not living together) but also she had issues with the daughters, so he didn't want to put us in charge due to her fits about it, he couldn't deal with her in that way, so he I believe he thought this friend would be sort of a buffer between the daughters and the wife, but wouldn't give the wife the decision making power. He told me in reference to the Trust, that he completely trusted my sister and I, but he was also painfully aware that the wife wouldn't tolerate us being completely in charge. Unfortunately the agent didn't turn out to be a buffer, he turned out to be a Kim Jong-un type of power hungry dictator. In my Dad's last years, there is nothing I would have loved more than to take care of him in all ways, and we are both so devoted to him. This whole thing has ripped my heart apart. There is very little a person can do to fight a POA I have learned. If anyone has had any success stories, I would love to hear them.
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Careful Jun 2012
Fortunately my mom changed her poa and her healthcare surrogate so that the siblings who thought a nursing home was a good strategy don't have a say in her affairs. Other than my brother allowing them to put his name on stuff that doesn't belong to him, but that is a whole other problem. I like what I read on here about how someone had a sister who "wanted all the glory, but none of the work" so they put the mom in a nursing home. Sounds like my two siblings. I have one good one who is super supportive though. Thank Heaven! All we can do is our best and accept others as they are.
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Careful Jun 2012
HelpMyMom! They were giving my dad Lunesta and it causes hallucinations in some patients and agitation. He couldn't sleep in the nursing home and we went in one day and we couldn't wake him up he was so drugged. Sounds like they might have given him the Haldol. When my mom finally agreed that we were taking my dad and her to my house I read all of the drug side effects and the Lunesta was the only one that could cause it. We took him off of it and he started sleeping a million times better. I didn't give him anything for sleep after that. I just got up and went into him if he woke up. The only time his thinking got out of whack after that was when he was in the hospital and after he got home it took about three days for him to start getting back to normal.
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igloo572 Jun 2012
Daughter with the POA trumps all others. Whether it's nice or right, by this point in time, won't be easy to challenge.

Whether your grandmother is competent or cognitive is really something that needs to determined by medical and legal professionals.This will be expensive to do. Until that happens and she can change her situation the POA is in charge. Whether her care is best served at home or at a NH is ultimately the decision of the POA. The POA has decided it is in NH - a skilled nursing facility. Keep in mind that if you challenge it, you'd have to prove that the NH isn't the best place for the level of care that she needs and that you can do and provide for all that the NH has. For example, I imagine that most registered physical therapists will, under oath, state that PT is best done in a rehab setting and not at home. So unless you are a RPT your opinion on whether PT can be done at home doesn't carry much weight. Realize those are the type of issues that will come up if you challenge the POA. If gran lived with you and there were problems that happened while gran was under your roof (you said she lived with you and there were some sort of Rx adverse issues), then you aren't in a good position to become her caregiver because all that will come up if there is a guardianship hearing. Can get ugly.


Nursing homes really are skilled nursing facilities and have changed dramatically and what a NH was in your greatgrandfather's day is not what they are today. There are some that are terrible and some that are almost ideallic. But because of regulations, you can't get into a NH without it being medically needed. Go an visit your gran at the NH and make the most of your time with her and put the whole POA issue behind you if you can.
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esne76 Jun 2012
Igloo572, you are mistaken on more than one point. 1) At the time my aunt was appointed POA, none of us had an issue with it because, as I said, she was the caretaker for a number of years and because we all believed that she would have my grandmother's interest at heart. It is more recently that we have come to realize that is not the case. Her actions now come purely from a vindictive perspective because there are some of us who actually have the audacity to disagree with her. She feels she has more (if not all) say because she is the eldest. 2) My grandmother is competent and cognitive when she is not put on anti-psychotic drugs that she has an adverse reaction to. Just prior to the time she came to live with me, her meds were adjusted and she was prescribed something that gave her medically-induced Parkinson's Disease. In order to correct that she needed to be weaned off that drug completely before being prescribed anything new. The detox from the one drug made her nearly comatose and the new drug they gave her made her violent. So yes, there was a medical necessity for assistance. She needed to be placed on the proper meds and required physical therapy to correct the Parkinson's symptoms. All of which could be done at home. If my aunt truly had my grandmother's wishes in mind she would have recognized that for years my grandmother expressed that she would never want to be in a home because she recalls how her father died in one and it was a fear of hers.

And while you are correct that legally my aunt has no obligation to impart any medical information to the rest of the family, from a moral perspective to not inform my grandmother's five other children of how she is doing is rather pathetic and sad.
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igloo572 Jun 2012
I have to agree with JeanneG, Selfish and Equinox.

There is a reason why daughter # 1 was chosen by mom as POA over the others when mom was still competent and cognitive. If you had issues with it, you should have challenged it then. That was mom's wishes then and Daughter # 1 acted for mom's best interests and I would imagine mom's needs changed to the point that a NH was needed. Admission into a NH is something that is not done easily and mom had to meet a certain level of medical necessity in order to be there and stay there. The POA has no responsibility to let you know what the reasons were and HIPPA laws have to be enforced by the NH and all of mom's health providers.

To get mom to change POA that could stand up in court now would be highly unlikely as mom likely has moved into decline significant enough that she is now in a NH and not competent or cognitive. I've been executrix twice and spend more hours in probate court than I could have ever imagined, and probate court is also most often where they hear guardianship requests and it's all open court so you get to hear all kinds of things. I will say in the time I sat around waiting for our docket to come up, changing an existing POA to a guardianship once the person is in a NH and the POA has seemed to do everything according to the norm, just does not happen. The judge is going to view the POA as valid and is not likely to be changed as the elders competency and judgement is impaired. Guardianship is not likely to be granted if the POA can show that proper care is being provided which being in a licensed NH does. The only ones who make out by this are the attorneys who get paid. Keep in mind, that if the elder has any $ the POA can use that $ to get an attorney to fight your challenge to the POA. You have to spend your own $ to do this. Costs do add up. Also my experience is that if the family is not all kum-ba-ya on mom's care, the judge will appoint an outsider to be the guardian - it will be an attorney, and the judges have a short list of those that are ready to do this asap - and once that happens the family can pretty well kiss goodbye becoming guardian or conservator for the elder for at least 6 months.

Guardianship isn't automatic and the judge can require all sorts of background checks, bonding, etc. for one to become guardian. After all this, the original POA could get appointed guardian anyway, too.
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esne76 Jun 2012
JeanneGibbs, because my aunt was the primary caretaker for so many years it was a natural choice that she be POA. There wasn't even a question about it amongst the rest of us, even if we weren't speaking to one another. As far as my grandmother goes, we could try to get her to change the POA, but, while she's aware of the rift in the family, she doesn't want to make waves.

I'd like to give my aunt the benefit of the doubt and say she won't block people from seeing her, but personal history tells me she's capable of anything. This latest instance is in retaliation of one of my cousins going to visit my grandmother in the hospital and ignoring my aunt's advice that it wasn't a good idea. This cousin works in the medical field and understands precautions and would never jeopardize my grandmother's health. She had also driven 3 hours just to see her and would not be deterred. The very next day when she called the nursing home to see that she was doing ok was when we found out about my aunt's instruction to the nursing home.

As far as trying to remove her from the home....quite frankly yes, I do not want her to be there. At least not now. Do I think there's going to be a time when she will need that level of care? Absolutely. But right now she is not so far gone.

Unfortunately I likely cannot afford to do anything legally, but I do appreciate the advice. Thanks for listening.
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Wow, Jeannegibbs, you're really good at this! I agree with your last post in this entirety. Esne76, keep going to see her. I KNOW it is difficult. My Dad is in a home. It's actually a very nice place. If we had any money, he would be at home with in home care, but they do not have any money. My Dad has dementia (can be very nasty!), totally incontinent and so on. So my 84-year old mother cannot care for him. Plus she has a host of health issues herself. Anyway, I go to see him at least twice a week. It's very hard to see him this way so what I'm saying is I know it's hard. I have two siblings that do not see either Mom or Dad. One refuses to see him; she'll be sorry later....and is causing a lot of trouble, trying to get to the last pennies that have left. The other one, well, I got him to write to my dad periodically in the NH and send some pictures of his family, but he has to be reminded. When the letters do come, Dad is thrilled! It can change his whole week. So keep going and Jeannegibbs is right, try to keep the family squabble stuff away from her. It only hurts them in the end. Hang in there. Try and have the POA changed if you can.

xo
-SS
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jeannegibbs Jun 2012
How very, very sad, esne76. And yet, in spite of having other relatives available and of having received caregiving from others as well as this daughter, this daughter is the one your grandmother selected to make decisions for her. If she still has her mental faculties intact, she could change the POA to someone else. Why do you suppose she doesn't? It could be that the daughter is indeed using her for selfish and nasty purposes. But why is Grandmother putting up with that?

There are aspects to this that may never be fully understood. In any case, go about your purpose of giving this poor woman some peace in her remaining years. Keep the family squabbles (or wars) away from her. Visit her where she is and bring a ray of sunshine when you come. I understand why phone calls aren't possible. Cards and visits still are possible, right? Aunt POA might keep the medical details from you, but surely she has no authority to say who visits when, does she? Especially if your grandmother can express her own desires.

It sounds like what you would want to have happen is to remove Grandmother from the NH. Right? An attorney who specializes in Elder Law can give you advice about what actions are available to you, what they will cost, and how likely they are to be successful.

If there is no feasible legal recourse for that first wish, do everything in your power to let Grandmother feel your love where she is right now. Give her the peace she deserves.

I am truly sorry that your family is having this experience.
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esne76 Jun 2012
For several years, the aunt in question was the primary caretaker for both my grandparents. When my grandfather passed away my grandmother went to live with another aunt who could be home with her. The months prior to her entering the nursing home she lived with me and my mother. Those months were very difficult because of an alteration in medication- very physically and emotionally demanding. That's when the topic of assistance came up. She definitely required help but was still not at a point where she needed full time care. We were advised to explore all options- at home care and physical therapy, as well as the nursing home. My aunt would consider nothing other than the home since at home care would require her living with me permanently. So under the guise of taking my grandmother to a follow up doctor's appointment, my aunt took my grandmother from my home and checked her into the psych ward at the hospital. She was discharged from the hospital and went directly to the home. In the months since my aunt has allowed another family member to move into my grandmother's home, thus ensuring that there is nowhere for my grandmother to live other than the home.

When she first got to the home, the nursing home told us that anyone could call as well as no limitations on visitors. Now we can no longer get any information when we call and my aunt is not particularly forthcoming with information. Calling to speak to my grandmother directly is not an option as she cannot hear well on the phone. We do visit regularly but it's difficult as we still feel she does not belong there. Keep in mind, prior to her going to the home, she was mobile (with supervision), and her other faculties were intact (when her meds are properly adjusted). Now she spends her day in a wheelchair and gets winded with the slightest exertion. Her meds are now under control so her mental faculties are still intact. And even those visits the POA is trying to control, trying to dictate who goes and when.

This in absolutely no way about money. It's about trying to give my grandmother some peace in her remaining years. My grandmother grew up with an abusive, controlling father; married an abusive, controlling man. And now has an equally controlling child who is using her as a pawn to lash out at her family.
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